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Mathematics is the study of numbers, quantity, space, pattern, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.

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Johannes Kepler 1610.jpg
Johannes Kepler
Image credit: User:ArtMechanic

Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) was an Austrian Lutheran mathematician, astronomer and a key figure in the 17th century astronomical revolution. He is best known for his laws of planetary motion, based on his works Astronomia nova and Harmonice Mundi; Kepler's laws provided one of the foundations of Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation. Before Kepler, planets' paths were computed by combinations of the circular motions of the celestial orbs; after Kepler astronomers shifted their attention from orbs to orbits—paths that could be represented mathematically as an ellipse.

During his career Kepler was a mathematics teacher at a Graz seminary school (later the University of Graz, Austria), an assistant to Tycho Brahe, court mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II, mathematics teacher in Linz, Austria, and adviser to General Wallenstein. He also did fundamental work in the field of optics and helped to legitimize the telescopic discoveries of his contemporary Galileo Galilei.

Kepler lived in an era when there was no clear distinction between astronomy and astrology, while there was a strong division between astronomy (a branch of mathematics within the liberal arts) and physics (a branch of the more prestigious discipline of philosophy).

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proof without words that the sum of the cubes of the first n natural numbers is the square of of the sum of the first n natural numbers
Credit: Cmglee

Nicomachus's theorem states that the sum of the cubes of the first n natural numbers is the square of the sum of the first n natural numbers. This result is generalized by Faulhaber's formula, which gives the sum of pth powers of the first n natural numbers. The special case of Nicomachus's theorem can be proved by mathematical induction, but a more direct proof can be given which is illustrated by a proof without words, pictured here.

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